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Tuesday, February 9, 2016

#PopeFrancis tells clergy abuse survivor to shut up and get off Commission for Protection of Minors

Peter Saunders, clergy abuse survivor, forced to leave Pope Francis' Commission
Peter Saunders, English advocate for sexually abused children and one of two survivors on the Pope’s Commission for the Protection of Minors was given an unrequested “leave of absence” by the Holy See.  Note that the Pope is the ruler of both the Vatican City State and the Holy See.  So it is really the Pope that didn’t approve of Saunders. Why? Maybe it is his role as head of the UK National Association for People Abused in Childhood. Or, the Pope and his cohorts didn’t like him saying that the Vatican system was “essentially corrupt and unwilling to do the right thing”.  Or, Pope Francis didn’t like being criticized for appointing Chilean bishop Juan Barros to the Diocese of Osorno when Barros is accused of covering up the sex abuse crimes of Fr Fernando Karadima.

Speaking to The Irish Times, Peter Saunders said he was “shell-shocked” and disappointed at the manner in which the “inquisition” had expressed a vote of no confidence in him especially as he was personally asked to join the panel by Pope Francis.


Saunders says he is still on the commission until he decides to leave or Pope Francis personally asks him to step down.  A Vatican spokesman said Saunders “can say what he wants” and that the separation with Saunders “was a unanimous decision made by the members, with only one abstention.” Marie Collins, the other survivor of clerical sexual abuse, said on Twitter that she hadn’t voted in favor of removing Saunders.

David Clohessy, SNAP
David Clohessy,  Director of SNAP* (the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests) said, “We share Pete Saunders’ justifiable frustration with Vatican officials. They refuse to take quick, simple, common sense steps to protect kids and deter cover ups by punishing clerics who conceal abuse. Instead, they do what church officials have done for decades: shrewdly fixate on and discuss meaningless internal policies on paper that give the impression of progress while changing virtually nothing.”  “Pete has been a brave, honest and tireless voice for kids and victims.”

“The Pope’s abuse panel will issue recommendations. The Pope will adopt them. And nothing will improve. Why? Because there will be no enforcement. Why? Because the church hierarchy is an entitled, rigid, secretive, all-male monarchy. No new protocols or policies or procedures will radically undo a centuries-old self-serving structure that rewards clerics who keep a tight lid on child sex crimes and cover ups,” said Clohessy.

*SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. SNAP was founded in 1988 and has more than 20,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org

Pope Francis had promised to attend commission meetings to answer questions about his handling of the sex abuse issue but he did not.  “Of course Pope Francis has established he is part of the problem,” Peter Saunders said in an interview with Agence France AFPTV.  “That breaks my heart because when I met him 18 months ago I thought there was a sincerity and a willingness to make things happen, and I am afraid that has been dashed now.”

In creating the Commission, the Holy See is up to its old tricks:  giving it “no teeth” – It is an advisory body, with no authority to change rules or judge specific abuse complaints.   No action: They issue statements like asking Pope Francis to remind all bishops of the importance of personal outreach to abuse victims, and also to institute a “Universal Day of Prayer” as well as a penitential liturgy for the crime of sexual abuse. They’ll hold workshops on the legal aspects of the protection of minors. I underlined the “no actions.”    As if talking and praying will heal children who were raped and punish their attackers -- or stop the multitude of pedophile priests currently stalking more children worldwide.

Saunders says now he realizes the commission was “smoke and mirrors” and he is convinced the Church will never act alone to cure the “cancer” of child abuse.  He added that he doesn’t want to work under secrecy and in darkness or, “be silenced on an issue as important as child protection.”

The biggest lie promoted by the Vatican and the Pope is that clerical sex abuse is a problem of past decades and no longer exists. “This is not in any sense a historical issue or problem,” Saunders said. “It has to be tackled now. The Pope could do so much more and he is doing next to nothing. This is a societal problem — but if the Church, the so-called moral leadership of the world, does not take a lead in this area it would quite rightly be considered morally bankrupt in every other area.”    

Pope Francis, stop convening commissions that do nothing and start taking action – like opening up the Vatican records on your child-abusing clergy and handing them and the clergy over to the police.